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Island Trees Alum: 2013 Internet Hall of Famer

Last year, Dr. Barry Leiner, a graduate of the Island Trees High School Class of 1963, was inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame for his dedication and expertise in the field of internet technology. Leiner was posthumously awarded a Distinguished Alumni Honor at the induction ceremony in Berlin, Germany, for his help setting up the bureaucratic structures that developed Internet communications protocols. 


“The Island Trees High School is proud of Dr. Barry Leiner, a true pioneer who was instrumental in bringing the Internet,” said Island Trees High School Principal Nicholas Grande.


After graduating high school, Leiner went on to graduate from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, before earning a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1973. 


By 1980, Leiner was made assistant director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) information-processing technique office and took over management of the Internet research program in 1983. As the manager of DARPA, Leiner also helped to establish the Internet Activities Board—later called the Internet Architect Board—which led the effort to set technical standards for the Internet for almost ten years. 


“He had a remarkable ability to bring together diverse people and organizations to help make the decisions and the plans that became the internet as we know it today,” said Leiner’s brother, David.    


Just two years later, in 1985, Leiner took up the role as assistant director of the NASA Ames Research Center’s Research Institute for Advanced Computer Science; and by 1999 he was directing the institute, which increased in size from 20 to 45 scientists. Leiner would continue to serve as director of the Research Institute for Advanced Computer Science until he passed away, on April 2, 2003, at age 57. 


His brother, David Leiner, and other members of his family atteneded the induction ceremony to accept the award on Leiner’s behalf.  “While the family knew about Barry’s involvement with the internet, he was always so matter of fact about it that we knew very little about the extent of his roles and contributions to it,” David said. “We now realize how profound a role he had in [making society a better place].”